Thursday, 31 October 2013

Steam Whistle Brewery

Steam Whistle Brewery, A Family Adventure?!

     I have been to Toronto many times with my family for different types of Sporting Events or Ice Shows. But had never thought of going on a brewery tour while I was there. Until I heard from The Steam Whistle Brewery Company claiming it was the "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" type of brewery (Sadly, no Oompa Loompas). This sounded like the perfect place for the kids to take their dad... 

  I was right! The kids, and even my mom, had a great time. The kids were even lucky enough to pull the actual "Steam Whistle"!! (Jealous)

Three Things I love About Steam Whistle 

  1. The delicious taste of the beer. 
  2. The Steam Whistle Company is as Green as it gets when it comes to saving the planet.
  3. Real Man Travels and Steam Whistle have "founding" similarities. Steam Whistle was thought up on a canoe trip in Ontario around a campfire and that is exactly how Real Man Travels was created.
   Steam Whistles Tour Info

Friday, 25 October 2013

Cask Days - Fresh Beer, Beautiful Venue

A post by Scott F

Toronto has no shortage of beer festivals. Not at all a bad thing if you’re like me and enjoy the chance to try a wide variety of beer amidst a crowd of like-minded, opinionated enthusiasts. Each festival has its own vibe – factors that differentiate each and overcome the ever-present risk of monotony for the regular crowd. Real Man Contributor Ed Arsenault and I got a chance to experience one of Toronto’s most unique festivals, Cask Days, in mid-October.

Cask Days, now in its ninth year, is a true showcasing event for ale brewers. Every brewmaster I’ve met enjoys the chance to experiment, but rarely are they offered a chance to have their creations sampled. Cask Days provides that opportunity. This year’s festival featured 230 beers from 124 breweries. The variety was immense and included everything from the ultra-traditional to the downright weird (such as the Drunken Bunny chocolate milk stout by Half-Pints Brewing Co., pictured below).

Cask-conditioned ales are the earliest form of draft beer. “Conditioning” refers to the final fermentation, which for cask ales occurs in the cask and completes only days or hours before the beer is consumed. The result is a less carbonated, slightly cloudy brew that is as fresh as a beer can be without coming straight from the brewery tap. Cask beers are unfiltered, unpasteurized and about as natural as beer can be.

Cask conditioning of beer is not a common practice in the age of beer gas (CO2 and nitrogen) tanks and consistent refrigeration; which is why an event like Cask Days is so unique. It is a tribute a passionate industry that still respects its roots and wants to offer customers a truly unique experience.

One of the festival’s clear advantages is the truly eclectic venue. Hosted at the Evergreen Brick Works, a series of deteriorating heritage buildings converted into a community environmental hub, the heavily industrial location provides an inspiring atmosphere for the event.

The festival also featured fantastic food, including kangaroo sloppy “joeys” (surprisingly good) and fresh oysters from Ceili Cottage of Leslieville. Other vendors included Bar Isabel, Parts & Labour, Hog Town Charcuterie, Tracy Winkworth and Pig Iron Coffee Roasters.

Other unique elements included a blind IPA tasting competition featuring four finalist beers from a selection of 32, vintage arcade video games, solid music and a good selection of ciders.

Two beers from small Quebec micro breweries stole the show for our palettes at the event. Le Trou Du Diable (makers of the humorously named Shawinigan Handshake Weizen Bock) brought a solid Belgian table beer called Petite Buteuse, while Les Brasseurs Du Temp’s Diable Au Corps (translated: Devil in the Flesh) was an amazingly balanced imperial pale ale considering its IBU 100 and ABV 10.

For those beer enthusiasts travelling to Toronto, consider Cask Days a must-attend for your fall schedule. Word to the wise, go on Sunday. We hear Saturday was a little busy for the taste of some. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Real Girl Travels - Niagara on the Lake

A Real Girl Travels Adventure:

So another post for Real Man Travels and another great adventure had. This time I actually made it, and I was early to boot!

On Sunday September 22nd at an early morning start time of 8:00am I set out on a highly anticipated adventure to Niagara on the Lake. Along side my best friend we began our 2 hour drive. On the agenda for the day were 4 wineries, and a micro brewery tour and tasting. We were very excited to do this as neither of us had ever been to Niagara on the Lake or to a wine tasting. We were definitely not disappointed.

First stop was Stratus. (@Stratuswines ) As we pulled into the parking lot of our first winery we fell in love with the architecture. The building is made of sustainable materials presented in a uniquely modern and raw way. Aside from the fantastic wines at Stratus, the building and the way the winery is run is very fascinating. No small detail was overlooked. From the recycled materials used in the construction of the building, to the pump-less wine flow technology, to the geothermal heating/cooling, this facility certainly earned its' 2005 LEED certification. (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

While at Stratus we took part in Swirls, Sips, and Hops, where we did a tour of the winery at Stratus, followed by a tasting. After that we walked next door to Oast House Brewery (@OastHouseBeer ) where we had a tour of their red barn facility and a nice sampling of their different beers available. This tour was a fantastic way to take in 2 different tours at once with two distinctly different atmospheres. From Stratus I purchased a bottle of their Stratus 2009 Red (which was on our tasting) and from Oast House, I bought a bottle of their Saison and Biere de Garde.

From Stratus we drove about 2 minutes down the road to Joseph's Estate Wines. (@NiagaraWine ) A family owned and operated winery that opened in 1996 officially. The family feel is definitely present at this facility. It was such a warm and welcoming experience. Our tour guide Joe made you feel like you were a part of the family. With a tour of the vineyard and wine making operations, we ended it with a great tasting. We both left with a bottle of their fantastic ice wine.

Keeping with the family run wineries we made our way to Konzelmans Estate Winery. (@KonzelmannWines) This winery is full of history with the 6th generation of the Konzelmann legacy currently running the business. When we first arrived, it was a very busy place! The tasting room and boutique is where are tour began and we were escorted through the grounds for a full tour of the vineyard and facility. The vineyard boasts a gorgeous view of Lake Ontario with a rolling Toronto city landscape in the distance. Reminds you that this little piece of paradise really isn't so far from home. Following our tour we were treated to a tasting and a lesson in "The 5 S's of Wine Tasting". This lesson is featured in the video at the end of this post. We both purchased 2 bottles from Konzelmann's, one white Pinot Blanc, and one red Pinot Noir. 

After Konzelmann's we went to our hotel to check in. We stayed at The Harbour House Hotel. (@NiagarasFinest ) This boutique hotel is absolutely stunning. Easy to get to, with ample parking, the hotel is situation right by the water with a fantastic view of the harbour. In the lobby you're treated to a complimentary wine tasting, their service was prompt and check in was smooth. There are elevators, how ever Chantelle and I used the stairs more. Our room was adorable with 2 single beds, a fantastic bathroom complete with a walk in shower, jacuzzi tub, and a rubber duck. The beds were incredibly comfortable and the hotel was pleasantly peaceful at night. 

The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to anywhere in town, complete with drop off and pick up, which was fantastic. We took the shuttle to our next tour and tasting at Strewn Winery. (@NiagaraWine ) Here we had a tour of the facility followed by a tasting. Located at Strewn is a fantastic restaurant called Terroir La Cachette (@TerroirCachette ) They use locally grown and raised products which really gives you a true taste of Niagara on the Lake. Our server, Steven, was so knowledgeable about the area, the food we were eating and the wine we were drinking, he really enhanced our entire dining experience. From beginning to end, our tour and tasting at Strewn, followed by our fabulous dinner at Terroir La Cachette, was incredible. 

We finished our night off at a local pub called The Olde Angel Inn. Established in 1789 and rebuilt in 1816 after the War of 1812, The Olde Angel Inn is a great place to go for a local pint and a ghost story or two. We both had a pint of the Angel Inn Lager.

Our Monday morning began with a tour and tasting at Coyote's Run. (@coyotesrun ) This winery boasts some distinct soils that are unique to the area. They grow grapes from both the Red Paw soil and the Black Paw soil. It's amazing the difference in taste that the soils can produce in the grapes. Our tour was conducted by one of the onsite wine makers so we were treated to trying an unreleased Cabernet Sauvignon directly from the barrel. It was delicious! 

Following Coyote's Run we finished off our wonderful winery weekend at Ravine Vineyard (@RavineVineyard ) It was at Ravine that we had one of the most unique vineyard tours; geo-tracking. Along with a guide from Ravine, we set out on a geo-tracking adventure through the entire vineyard. Using a GPS app on my iPhone we were able to locate all of the boxes and learned a little bit about the vineyard with each box we uncovered. It was a definitely a fun way of seeing and learning about the vineyard. Following our geo-tracking adventure we had lunch at the restaurant onsite. This restaurant uses vegetables from the organic garden which is right on site, as well as their own farm raised pigs, and they even bake their own bread. The meal was delicious and had just as satisfying a view of the entire vineyard and surrounding area. 

Also Check out this Awesome Niagara on the Lake Video 

While we managed to take in 6 wineries and 1 brewery there is so much more to do in beautiful Niagara on the Lake. Here are some upcoming events:

• In November, the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake host "Taste the Season," a touring pass event which features a seasonally-inspired VQA wine and food pairing at each of the 27 member wineries.

• In January, we celebrate Icewine with the Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival, which includes tutored tastings with some of Canada’s leading Icewinemakers, live jazz, Icewine-inspired culinary creations, and an Icewine cocktail competition, as well as a lot of fantastic winery events. We could even get you out picking some Icewine grapes.

• In February, there's "Days of Wine and Chocolate," a touring pass event which features VQA wines matched with chocolate-infused dishes at each of the wineries.

• In May the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake welcome spring with "Wine and Herb," a touring pass event which features different herb-themed food pairing matched to a premium VQA wine selected to highlight the flavour and aroma of the herb at each of the 27 wineries.

Planning a guys weekend? Here are some other great activities that would be great:

● Hitting the greens and enjoying Canada’s largest concentration of golf facilities in one region, including the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club, which is North America’s oldest course. Niagara is also home to the Niagara Golf Trail, which includes six great area courses open for public play that are known for their beautiful views, challenging courses and fabulous club houses.

 Packages from transportation partners with great options for the guys, including a Land, Sea and Air package that offers guests the opportunity to ride the Niagara River’s Class 5 rapids in a Jet boat, have an unforgettable Land Rover off-roading adventure and soar over Niagara’s vineyards in a helicopter.

 Fantastic dining options including Barrel Cellar dinners, dinners hosted by the Winemaker, casual food truck fare and more.
There is also a little thing called the Winemakers' Selection Tasting Pass, which allows pass holders  to enjoy one tasting of a Winemaker's Selection wine at each of the 27 Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake any day of the year. Touring passes, which are $27 per person, plus applicable taxes, can be purchased online at or by calling Tourism Niagara-on-the-Lake at 905.468.1950. You can also buy your passes at any of the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
If you're interested in more information please visit

More links to check out:

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Sometimes You Just Need to Party to Relax

Hey folks, Ed here with a short and sweet post.

I recently took a trip with 4 friends down to Memories Varadero in beautiful Cuba. On this trip I came to the realization that sometimes you just need to party to relax. 

I'm not saying it is for everyone, but to unwind from the stresses of life with an itinerary, plans and sights to see sometimes doesn't feel like a vacation at all. Sometimes you just need to indulge in a beer or twenty and really forget life back home.

I truly recommend that in between your gathering of culture and worldly knowledge that you take some time and just cut loose. Dance at 3:00 am on a beach, act like a kid and go down a water slide with a drink, sleep in till noon, drink till 5:00 am and just cut loose. I promise if you are safe about it, you will not regret it!

Here is a short video from my last "relaxing" trip in Varadero Cuba.

Memories Varadero from Ed Arsenault on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Canadian Space and Aviation Museum

The Canadian Space and Aviation Museum

“When I was eight years old to be a spaceman was the most exciting thing I could imagine.” - Roberta Bondar

I have a dream! And it is a very important one. I want my daughters to be the best they can be in life. I am sure you have similar hopes and dreams for your child/children.

My plan this past summer was to try and inspire my children to be leaders by taking them to a city that is full of leaders,our nations capital Ottawa.

You maybe wondering why I chose The Canadian Space and Aviation Museum as a place of inspiration for my daughters. Well the museum is host to many exhibits, but my favorite part was dedicated to Great Canadian Astronauts like Roberta Bondar, The first Canadian Woman in space, and Col. Chris Hadfield who just this past year was the Commander of the International Space Station. You can pretend to be an astronaut by playing a giant version of Chris Hadfield's guitar or by sitting on a space toilet.

With amazing planes of all shapes and sizes, and craft workshops to keep the kids happy. Strolling through the museum is a fun way to to teach your kids about the history of aviation and space travel. 

Another bonus that I was not expecting, was the nice playground they had just beside the parking lot, its a great way to burn off any left over energy.

Check out Ottawa Tourism's Website for more info.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Tight lines, and Good Times - Fly Fishing in Sault Ste Marie

As I wade into the quick moving water a sense of calm moves over me. Any nerves or jitters have been washed away by the crystal clear water, and any lingering thoughts of my work week have been drowned out by the sound of the rapids of the St Marys River. Only when I reach the island that will be our base for the day can I pause and appreciate just how beautiful this morning is.

St Mary's Rapids, Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

That view may look familiar to regular readers of Real Man Travels. Chris, our editor-in-chief, and my older brother, was lucky enough to travel to Sault Ste. Marie in June and learned to fly fish as part of a media trip. This time he would be the savy veteran as our Dad and I learned the finer points of fly fishing from our guide Brad, of Soo North Fly Shop. Furthermore, if you are a regular reader, you know we like taking our unique trips as birthday or father`s day gifts (50 year old NASCAR virgin, Our First Win). It was his birthday gift that brought us north to wade the waters in pursuit of Pink Salmon, Tight lines, and good times.

So why the Soo you might be wondering? Long drive to go fishing, others have said to us. Well, Sault Ste Marie, which is french for "Rapids of the St. Marys", has been a fishing hot bed for somewhere around 400 years. Ya, you read that right, 400 years. When early European settlers traveled the great lakes in the 1640's, they found many natives settled near the rapids as it provided an excellent source of food. If your looking for something a little more recent, in 1920, Ernest Hemingway himself proclaimed "At the present time the best rainbow trout fishing in the world is the Rapids at the Canadian Soo." These days you wont just find resident rainbows, but whitefish too. The rapids also serve as a migratory route for Atlantic, Chinook, pink, and coho Salmon, and steelhead and brown trout. After reading that I'm sure you understand why Sault Ste Marie is still highly regarded as a world class fishing destination.
Pink Salmon Fishing Sault Ste Marie
My best go at the "Official" Real Man Fishing pose
Real Man Travels Sault Ste Marie
The original shows me how its done
Real Man Travels Generations
Dad, Chris, and I showing off the tools of the trade: Vision Rods and Reels
One of our dads favourite stories is about how he would take us river fishing when we were little. He claims he would tie us to trees on the river bank so we wouldn't fall in and be swept away. This of course was driven by the fear of coming home to my mother with one less child. I cant remember if this is bull or not, but thanks to Brad, we now have memories that will not soon fade.

Tight lines my friends-


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A Boat Ride to Remember - Sliabh Liag Cliffs

SLIABH LIAGH CLIFFS are absolutely breathtaking, as you can see in the picture below.  Perched on top of the cliffs is a watch tower that was built to keep a look out for a possible invasion from Napolean Bonaparte and his men.

The coast line along Donegal Co. is absolutely breathtaking.

We were lucky enough to take a swim in one the many coves along the cliffs. (I did a cannonball in my underwear and quickly got out)  Our tour operator Sliabh Liag Boat Trips did a fantastic job of bringing out the sunshine and a few other surprises. (Watch Amazing Video Below)

Who doesn't love Dolphins?!? 

NOTE:The owner/skipper Paddy Byrne has over 20 years experience in commercial fishing, leisure angling and in the off shore wind farm industry and has all the necessary qualifications and training to make your trip a safe and memorable one.

Thanks Paddy